Monday, March 06, 2006

Is Our Story Suitable for Children?

If we had to put a rating on it, how would we rate the Easter Story? PG-13? M? R?

No, I am not talking about Mr. Gibson's movie (which I have never seen) nor about any other movie portrayal of Holy Week. But the story itself, as written in the Gospels.

Think about it, we spend countless Sundays telling children about this wonderful man/God named Jesus. We tell them how he loves them (Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so) and that they should love him too. Then we come to Good Friday. Now we tell them that this man, who we have told them they should love, has been killed. Not only that but traditional Western theology (be it Roman, Lutheran, Anglican or Reformed) goes on to say that it is their fault. After all, how else will a young child hear the words "he died for your sins".

Many children may not know or remember the rest of the story. For them this body on the cross may be the end. If they don't know that Easter is coming what have we told them. Of course that may actually mean that they have a deeper experience of the Passion cycle than we who take it for granted that Sunday will come. But is it good for children? OR is it too traumatic? OR is it good even though it is traumatic?

As a child, even after I knew and remembered the rest of the story, I was always troubled by the name "Good Friday". IT wasn't a good day (and my memory of Good Friday's in my childhood is that they were often cloudy and cool). As an adult my struggle with Good Friday is different. Now I struggle with the whole sacrificial substitutionary atonement theory that some people insist is the only interpretation of the cross. Always makes planning the Good Friday service and meditation "interesting" to say the least.

1 comment:

  1. Gord, I just came from a discussion (yes, I'm wasting a little time this morning) elsewhere online where some extremely confident individual opined that the Atonement was "plain and simple." I pointed out that it is NOT simple, that theologians have been working their brains into pretzels for 2,000 years trying to figure it out, and that there are numerous different (but not necessarily mutually exclusive) ways to think about what Christ's suffering/death/resurrection mean for us. I get so tired of the facile way in which Christians sling Christianese terms around that I've decided that every time I hear or see someone disgorging Christianese boilerplate like "Jesus died for our sins," I'm not going to let them off the hook: What does this mean?

    Kathleen Norris' excellent book Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, is a wonderful resource in this regard...wrestling with these terms we sling around so blithely and often unthinkingly.